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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Butler-Madden

What is the role of leadership in purpose and ESG?

Over the last few weeks, a continuous theme keeps emerging in conversations I’m having with people around the adoption and practice of purpose in organisations: Leadership.

Of course, Purpose is inherently about Leadership. But what I’m keen to dive into in this blog is the role of leadership teams and the Board when it comes to building, not just a Purpose-led business, but a business that is fit for the times we live in: competent in ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) practices.

Too often it seems Purpose is still viewed as something for the HR department or Brand and Marketing. And ESG is driven by the CSR or Sustainability department. This is such a limiting view and certainly not aligned with market expectations; which is that societal leadership is now a core expectation of business.

For this reason I thought it might be helpful to explore the role of leadership when it comes to purpose and ESG, through an article I recently wrote and our latest podcast interview.

1. CEO World Magazine article on Why Organisational Purpose Must Lead from the Top

Here’s a short piece from it...

An organisation whose purpose is not led from the top either has the wrong “purpose” or the wrong leaders.

Purpose can no longer just be framed as a passive context for what you do in your business. It is equally about identity and human endeavour: who you are and how you show up for the common good.

So, if your purpose does not drive your business strategy, you cannot claim to be a purpose-led organisation. You may have a purpose statement, but your organisation is not led by its stated intention. The true purpose your organisation serves is inconsistent with what your purpose statement articulates. Therefore, you either have the wrong purpose statement, or if your leaders are not aligned with that purpose, they are the wrong people to bring that purpose to life. Either way there is a misalignment that is likely to impact negatively on the organisation. Unmet expectations usually do end in tears.


2. Our latest FOR LOVE & MONEY Podcast interview with Carsten Primdal on ESG Competent Boards

Carsten is a Sustainability, ESG and Modern Slavery Expert and co-founder of Scertify, an organisation merging tech and sustainability to drive impact, enabled by blockchain, AI and Machine Learning.

Our interview covers his career and what led him to co-founding Scertify and launching the Competent Boards ESG Training Program.

Some of the highlights of our interview include:

  • What ESG actually means beyond the superficial meaning

  • The relationship between ESG and Purpose

  • What the ESG Competent Boards Designation Program is

  • Who would get value from this program

  • Why the program is so important; particularly now

  • What participants can get out of the program

I hope these resources are useful to you in furthering your path to purpose or ESG agenda.

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